Tell Me a Story...

Peace: The Story

90813598_2280720908897201_6363800686552376663_n(1)
Permission received from Kate Lee

This piece was written several years ago for my son, Gabriel and the sheet music is entitled “When Fear Creeps In.”  Today I finished the recording which I dedicate to my sweet Sister-in-law, Rebecca Harper.  On Sunday, she became a guardian angel and our hearts grieve her passing.  As I wrote the title at the top, the title with fear in it didn’t feel right.  As I have worked on this recording, I have kept calling it “Peace” and so that is what the recording will now be called.

The idea to make this recording came on Sunday night when my son, Gabriel, asked me to play a song for him on the piano as he tried to fall asleep.  We had just been given the news of Rebecca’s passing and he felt scared and worried that he would have nightmares.  I pulled out the binder with music I had written over the last several years and played through several, this being one of them.   I thought of the message of peace that our Savior, Jesus Christ offers and how much we need Him.  I find comfort singing about His peace and so I share it in hopes that you find some comfort here.

(Click on the link below to hear the recording.)

Peace

 

Tell Me a Story...

The Holding Place: The Story

dominik-scythe-283337-unsplash
Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

Several years ago, my mom shared this personal story by Michael Wilcox (found in his book entitled Walking on Water and Other Classic Messages). 

When Michael was a baby, his father left his mother and she raised her children alone.  Through the years his Dad’s choices caused a lot of pain and heartache for their family.  As a teenager, Michael felt a need to pray for peace, healing and help forgiving his dad.  So he did, and no answer came.  He kept at it, and through the next several years, he prayed for the same thing.  But no answer came.  When he was in his 30’s (married, with two girls and two boys of his own), he was asked to give a talk in church about families.  He sat down to decide what to say, assuming he would just talk about his mom.  But the Spirit whispered “Talk about your Dad.”

My dad? He wondered. What in the world would I say?  But Michael felt prompted to think about him.

Then his two boys, ages 6 and 2, came into the room and just stood there looking at him.  In that moment, hundreds of memories he had shared with these two little guys flooded his mind- many little everyday interactions as well as bigger moments.  And suddenly an answer came- I am now ready to answer your question. Now that you are a father, now that you know a father’s love, would you be the son who lost his father, or the father who lost his son?

He gathered his sons into his arms and cried and cried- for all his father had missed.

Here is the quote that sums it all up:

“Why didn’t my Father in Heaven give me that answer at fifteen, or twenty-one, or twenty-five, or when I was married, or when my daughters were born? He needed to wait until I was a father of sons and had enough experiences with my boys to understand what a sweet thing it is to be a father and share memories with sons. The holding place had to be carved in my heart, and as soon as I could really receive and comprehend the answer, the Lord gave it to me. Maybe we are in the fourth watch, but the Lord is saying to us: I’ll answer your prayer. I’m aware of your needs. It is recorded in heaven, and I’m going to answer it. But right now in your life there’s no place for me to put the answer. Life will create a holding place, and as soon as you are able to receive it, I will give it to you.”

I have retold that story so many time over the last few years, and have found it to be SO true in my own life.  So many times I have wanted an answer but I didn’t have a place to receive it- yet.

For several years I have talked about writing a song called “The Holding Place” because this story touched me so deeply.  But I find that sometimes that becomes a problem- something I care so much about becomes difficult to sufficiently express.  So it has taken a long time to write this one.  A few years ago, Jon (my sweetheart) jotted down a poem for me, hoping it would help me work through the creative problems that stood in my way of finishing it.  I saved the envelope he wrote it on 🙂 and used some of his ideas for the bridge.  I appreciate his constant support.

Another interesting tidbit is that I had a hard time writing the music for a while because I felt that I couldn’t totally relate to a father leaving his family.  I had a very steady and loving home-life growing up, so I wasn’t sure how to express what he had experienced.  When my youngest went to school last fall, he struggled each day going to school (fortunately he LOVES school now and is all smiles).  Big crocodile tears would roll down his face and he would ask “Why do I have to go to school?”  It was then, during the days when I had to send him to school with tear-stained cheeks and worry about him all day long, that I wrote “tell me the reason, I’ll try to be brave, but it makes no sense and I feel afraid…”

Musically, my favorite part is the bridge- where the momentum increases from a pensive, thoughful backdrop to a pulse.  “What should he tell them of the years gone by?  Of hurts and hopes and heaven?  They will understand in time…” and that winds back to the chorus.  That part was the most fun to write.

One other funny fact- if you were to compare the sheet music to the recording you’d see there are several (unintentional) differences.  You’d think I knew this piece inside and out after writing and editing it for several years, but I still ended up unintentionally changing lyrics and timing during the recording process!  I decided to leave the changes for now because I think they’re kind of a fun, spontaneous addition :).

Enjoy!

~Laura

Click here to hear it!  The Holding Place

Tell Me a Story...

Penny in my Pocket: The (short) Story

penny-clipart-black-and-white-cartoon-134087

Hi all!  I spent the day recording and it’s time to pick up my sweet kiddos so this will be brief.  I shared the song “Sunset” several months ago- remember?  Well this one I promised to share as well and I’m just now getting it up here.  My friend Norm wrote the words for this one also, and I really love how bouncy and fun it is.  (Click on the link below to hear the recording!)

Penny in my Pocket

 

Tell Me a Story...

Say Yes: The Story

DSC_5484
Mom and Dad, Thanksgiving 2016

About a year ago, my Dad went through a fight with lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) and came out on top.  As he was undergoing treatment, I was reflecting one day about the things my Dad had taught me, and two words came to mind: “Say Yes!”  It made me smile.

Em 2 My Dad has never turned down a dream or opportunity because it wasn’t practical or it didn’t seem realistic, or it wasn’t a comfortable idea.  He lives the “Dream Big” slogan.  Here he is (above) building his dream home with his sons/in-laws in his 50’s.  He did most of the labor himself.  He had dreamed for years about building a home someday, and he decided he wanted to do it; so he did.

It’s the same reason he has been a cabinet maker, an architect, a bee keeper, a pole vaulting coach, a butcher, a general contractor, and a hundred other things.  When the opportunity comes he says, “Why not?”  The crazier the opportunity, the more fun it sounds!  He is never satisfied with a comfortable, predictable, easy life (hmmm- on second thought he’s probably never tried it!).  He loves the feeling that he’s growing, learning and pushing the limits.  That makes him feel alive!

As I was looking through pictures today trying to decide which ones best illustrated the idea of “Say Yes,” I found these 4 pictures of my Dad interacting with my oldest son.  To me it’s a visual way of my Dad saying, “Come ‘ere and let me show you how fun life can be!”

025

023

027 (2)

026

“Say Yes!” was a fun piece to write because it allowed me to really let loose and explore musically – the message is all about getting outside your comfort zone, after all!  It’s the first time I’ve tried putting another instrument in a recording besides piano and voice, so that was a fun way to explore new territory.

One of my favorite parts of this piece is the trills that the violin does, both in the middle of the piece (symbolizing the opportunity that is peeking around the corner) and at the end (we get one more “look” at the opportunity before the end).  I like the way this piece makes me feel more open and curious about the possibilities of life ahead.  It leaves a question mark in the listener’s mind at the end- “What is your opportunity and are you going to run and grab it?”

090 (2)
Dad getting a good belly laugh during a family game of Minute-to-Win-it.

As Dad pushes the limits and gets outside of his comfort zone, he inspires me (and everyone else around him!) to “Say Yes!” too.

Merry Christmas, Dad!

(Click on the link below to hear the recording:)

Say Yes

Tell Me a Story...

Teach My Heart To See: The Story

hunter-bryant-48375-unsplash
Photo by Hunter Bryant on Unsplash

Hi friends!  Today I am sharing a piece I wrote last year with a friend. Here is some background and at the bottom of the post is the link to the recording.  I hope you enjoy it! 🙂

The Story of “Teach My Heart to See” as told by Laura Harper

(Music and Lyrics by Shaillé Claypool and Laura Harper)

4/15/17

     “Teach My Heart to See” was one of the most enjoyable music writing experiences I’ve had yet.  Mainly this was because it was my first collaboration with a talented musician- Shaillé Claypool.  Shaillé is my friend’s daughter’s friend- and now my good friend and collaborator! My friend Marlene “happened” to mention a woman in Spokane Valley who is writing music similar to mine, and I knew immediately that I needed to talk to her.  The next day our phone conversation flowed easily as we discussed music and the experiences we have had that are related. It was unbelievable how similar our stories are (our husbands are both optometrists!), and we felt like Heavenly Father had brought us together- there was no other way to explain how directed this potential collaboration felt.  

     As I finished “Master of Colors”, Shaillé was working on a draft of lyrics for “Seeing with the Heart”, a title which would change names two other times in the process.  I couldn’t believe how fast she could crank out full lyrics- it blew me away! The lyrics sat waiting for me in my inbox as I finished my other project, and then I sat down to work on the music.  I found that without worrying about the lyrics, the music flowed much more freely than it ever had. The process was playful and joyful, and experimental, and I soon emailed her a “skeleton” of the music portion with the lyrics typed in.  I had been learning a lot about Alan Menkin, so some of my writing reflects what I learned from videos I watched about his writing process and methods. Once we had both initially generated part of the song, we became full co-creators- working on both the lyrics and the music, working mainly through email, though we had the opportunity to work together in person on one exciting Saturday!

     A week before Easter, I was given the opportunity to sing the following Sunday (on Easter) during Sunday School.  I immediately thought of “our song” and wondered if we could finish the details in one week and have it ready to share.  Shaillé and I decided we were willing to try. It was a busy week of working out the kinks, but the Saturday of Easter weekend, the sheet music was finalized and ready to share.  

     I love this piece of music- it’s living and vibrant.  The words and lyrics are authentic and brim full with testimony.  Our hope is that this Easter season, and any time that the music is heard, it will strengthen faith and perhaps provide a glimpse of what was once invisible!

Teach My Heart To See